Riverside welcomes the government’s Rough Sleeping Strategy as a crucial first step towards meeting their manifesto pledge to end rough sleeping by 2027.
It is refreshing to see that the government have worked with sector experts to fully understand the depth of issues facing people sleeping rough and have developed a strategy which sets out practical steps and actions to be taken – alongside some additional new funding.
The three pronged approach to the strategy: Prevention, Intervention and Recovery aims to ensure that fewer people end up on the streets in the first place and those that are currently rough sleeping move off the streets and, crucially, are helped to sustain this move. The strategy seeks to provide an integrated approach investing in crucial areas such as outreach and health services which are pivotal to ending homelessness.
The strategy takes steps to meet the specific needs of different groups such as women, non UK nationals and LBGT. It also provides provision for people leaving the prison service and mental health and addictions, recognising sustainable accommodation to prevent the risk of rough sleeping. This is a great step forward in the government’s thinking around providing a holistic strategy.
We are particularly pleased to see that Homelessness Experts will be available at every Job Centre Plus to sign post and provide advice and support at the earliest opportunity. Universal Credit can be an important and effective tool in supporting people to find and sustain accommodation. Investing the appropriate level of support at the application stage can remove barriers to applying for Universal Credit, prioritise finding suitable accommodation, and prevent errors and delays in receiving benefits.
We are excited about the ‘rapid rehousing’ response and recognise that connecting people with a home will put them in a better position to address other challenges that may have led to their homelessness.
In addition to the £28 million already committed to delivering Housing First across the country, this government are providing £30 million to support people moving on from hostel and refuge accommodation. Supported housing is a major route off the streets for many people who sleep rough and have complex needs. Due to the demand for this provision it can become silted up where there are a lack of move-on options. This commitment will help to reduce the challenges faced by customers moving on from supported housing and will help to address the bottle neck that occurs in areas where long-term housing is in short supply.
We are delighted to see that the government has future plans to work with the private rented sector to look at affordability as this will create greater opportunity for people leaving supported accommodation.
As we said last week, we are pleased the government announced that supported housing will continue to be funded by Housing Benefit; this will enable us to invest with confidence in new and existing supported housing services and continues to provide an option for people experiencing homelessness.
We agree with the sector that the Rough Sleeping Strategy offers a good first step in the right direction. However there needs to be increased investment in social housing if the government is serious about ending homelessness by 2027 as well as a closer examination into the root causes of homelessness, including the impact of welfare reform. Riverside is contributing to ending homelessness as a social housing provider by building affordable housing – we are aiming to build 20,000 homes over the next decade. As a homelessness provider we will continue to help our customers rebuild their lives away from the streets and to work with initiatives such as No Second Night Out to ensure that people are quickly helped off the streets.